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The Gentlemen

Guy Ritchie has had a varied career. Initially known for his British gangster flicks which include ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch’, the director has since diversified into other genres. The fantasy epic ‘Aladdin’ and ‘King Arthur’ had varying degrees of success, but it’s his crime movies that are best known. ‘The Gentlemen’ finds him on comfortable turf, with a gaggle of crims looking for a payday only Ritchie can provide.

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is an expat American drug dealer wanting out of the game. Keen to liquidate his operation for cash, his idea brings out the best of the British underworld including Coach (Colin Farrell) and Raymond (Charlie Hunman). With dodgy news reporter Fletcher (Hugh Grant) lurking in the shadows, it’s anyone’s game as the temptation to grab bags full of loot becomes too great to resist.

‘The Gentlemen’ is great escapist fare only Ritchie can provide. He knows these characters very well – the slangs, moves and their code of honour. This authenticity gives the story an edge by successfully drawing you into this murky world. The twists, double-crosses that are part and parcel of a Ritchie movie are easily seen. His script keeps you guessing until the absolute final moments, making for a fun and a frequently violent ride.

As with any ensemble piece, ‘The Gentlemen’ thrives on performances. There are too many to mention, as all inhabit their wayward characters with ease. You can tell they are enjoying bringing the story to life with their persona’s charms on full display. The cinematography also teases out the frenetic, dangerous atmosphere in which they all exist.

Ritchie’s pleasure in bringing ‘The Gentlemen’ to the screen is evident. He’s clearly having a good time with a solid and sordid tale of money and revenge. Whilst it’s always good to walk a different cinematic path, the occasional foray into familiar territory doesn’t hurt with Ritchie’s latest amongst his best.

Rating out of 10: 8

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Since 1977, the ‘Star Wars’ movies have captured generations of film-goers. The story of the Skywalker clan in their battle against evil has spawned a billion dollar industry showing no signs of abating. Even calling ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ the ‘final chapter’ of the Skywalker saga won’t stop the franchise. With a blossoming array of TV series based on it currently in development, the series will endure. For now, this supposedly last hurrah on the silver screen should suffice for all budding Jedi warriors.

The fabled Resistance, led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and including, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) are ready for battle. Confronting the evil of the First Order, led by its Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the heroes face all-out war. Old enemies and friends resurface as the Jedi and Sith warrior’s fates move towards a decisive resolution.

The question viewers will want answered is does ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ deliver the goods? It does overall with all the expected spectacular CGI and action sequences a mega-budget can buy. Story-wise it’s a mixed bag although it’s consistently entertaining with a furious pace. The performances are solid for this type of flick with the emotional beats successfully generated amongst the glitz.

Long-term fans will feel a sense of deja vu with this instalment. It recycles elements of previous entries, especially Return of the Jedi, with parts of the narrative feeling stale. Generally it convincingly wraps up the current trilogy and the series ensuring it feels as ‘final’ as a money-making franchise can be. As always those expecting a visual feast will be delighted with the bright colours distracting you from any plot holes.

One shouldn’t feel too sad that ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ is potentially the end. Hollywood never lets a hit franchise wither away, with Star Wars’ future looking bright. Although disco may have faded since the first film arrived in the 70’s, the series looks set to keep spinning like an eternally moving mirror-ball.

Rating out of 10: 7